HCAP Funding Announcement

[An announcement on HCAP funding from Lisa Nuszkowski]

HUD recently announced 2009-10 awards for its Housing Counseling Assistance Program (HCAP).  While Michigan saw an increase in the number of community-based counseling agencies receiving funding (from 8 agencies in 2008 to 14 agencies in 2009), the funding for counseling is still far under what is needed to serve Michigan’s homeowners (the increase in funding to these agencies went from $433,147 in 2008 to $582,387 in 2009).  What’s more, some communities such as Detroit received zero dollars in housing counseling funds from HUD.

In response to the concern that Michigan’s counseling agencies are not receiving their fair share of HCAP funding, the Michigan Foreclosure Task Force started meeting with members of Michigan’s Congressional delegation to inform them about the dire need for additional funding and how little HCAP funds community-based counseling agencies in Michigan receive, despite the extraordinary need.  The entire Michigan delegation signed a letter to HUD Secretary Donovan asking questions about how funds are awarded and how Michigan can access more federal resources.  We expect to have a response from HUD to share with the Task Force shortly.

We plan to continue meeting with members of the Michigan delegation to make the case that our agencies need adequate funding to meet the need for foreclosure counseling in Michigan.  Thus far, we have met with Senator Levin, Congressmen Dingell, Schauer, Camp, and Ehlers.  Please let Steve or I know if you have a relationship with your Congressperson or would be willing to help us set up a meeting with them.  We will also be participating in a strategic planning session with HUD later this month, where we will continue to deliver the message that Michigan needs more counseling resources.

A few important reminders and announcements:

  1. If you haven’t already, sign up today for Friday’s webinar on What You Need To Know About Michigan’s 90-Day Law. You can do so here.
  2. Detroit HOPE Now will be hosting a foreclosure prevention workshop on Saturday, December 5, 2009 from 9am-2pm at Cobo Hall in Detroit.  If your agency is interested in participating, please contact Sheila Squier at ssquier@twcny.rr.com with the following: Agency Name, Volunteer Name(s), Contact Email and Phone Number, and Languages Spoken.
  3. Accidentally delete an email with important Task Force information?  My emails to the Task Force will be posted on CEDAM’s blog, so please visit to catch up on any information you may have missed.

Pre-Capital-Day Webinars 11/2 and 11/3

[This post was updated Nov. 6, 2009.]

In preparation for Capital Day, CEDAM hosted two policy webinars. Materials from the webinars are linked below; please note that if you are attending Capital Day you must review the materials from the “Review of Policy Topics for Capital Day” webinar (see below).

The first webinar was “How a Bill Becomes a Law.” CEDAM policy staff reviewed the legislative process with an emphasis on Michigan.   Materials from the webinar are available here under “The Legislative Process and the State Legislature.” This information is recommended for anyone who is attending Capital Day and would like to improve their understanding of the legislative process.

The second webinar, “Review of Policy Topics for Capital Day,” covered the following topics:

  • Foreclosure Rescue Scams (by Lisa Nuszkowski, Michigan Foreclosure Task Force)
  • Predatory Lending (also by Lisa Nuszkowski)
  • HB 5296, Employer Notification of Earned Income Tax Credit eligibility (by Ross Yednock, Asset Building Policy Project)
  • Increasing Volunteer Base for Volunteer Income Tax Assistance sites (also by Ross Yednock)
  • The 2010 Census and Why It Matters for Michigan (by Katie Johnson in collaboration with the Michigan Nonprofit Association)

This webinar is required for Capital Day attendees. If you attending Capital Day and did not view this webinar, please review the materials here under “Capital Day November 2009 Resources.” We will not be discussing the issues at length on November 10, so we can devote more time to advocacy training.

How to Ruin Your Reputation on the Internet: Stop Updating

[This post is part of the How To Ruin Your Reputation on the Internet series, written by CEDAM Communications Intern Olivia Courant.]

Welcome to the “How to Ruin Your Reputation on the Internet” blog series.  This series will highlight common mistakes nonprofits make online that hurt their reputation or make their online communications strategies ineffective.  In other words, this series is about bad web practices.

—The Nonprofit That Never Posted—

Let’s begin with the following scenario: you hear about CEDAM and want to see what the organization is about.  You search for CEDAM on Google, find the website, land on the CEDAM homepage, and what do you see?  An announcement from 2005.  It is 2009.

2005 CEDAM screenshot

Does CEDAM no longer exist?  Or is the staff just too lazy to update the website?  Either way, having old information on your homepage will drive away your audience and make your organization look less professional.  When a nonprofit sets up a website, online profile, or Facebook page, it must consider how much time and how many resources it has to put into its online presence.

TIP: If your nonprofit is too busy to maintain a full-fledged website, consider using only a Facebook page.  Having a Facebook page lets Internet users learn about your nonprofit, and at the same time it is easy for you to post news or events to show that your nonprofit is, in fact, still active.  This video will show you how to set up a Facebook page.

What are your experiences with running a nonprofit website or Facebook page? Share them with us in the comments section.

Capital Day Q and A

CEDAM and the Asset Building Coalition (ABC) are hosting the second CEDAM/ABC legislative advocacy day on November 10.   The Michigan Foreclosure Task Force (MFTF) is also involved.  Here are the answers to some frequently asked questions.

When and where is Capital Day? Capital Day will take place on Tuesday, November 10, 2009 from 8:30 am to 3:30 pm. We will start the day in the Speaker’s Library of the State Capitol building in Lansing.

Why should I come? If you are a CEDAM, ABC, or MFTF member, you should come to build your relationship with your legislators, to get great advocacy training, and to connect with other professionals in your field.  If you like architecture and history, you should also come for the bonus Capitol tour.

Why do my legislators want to meet with me? First, the whole reason they are in Lansing is to represent you and the people you serve – they want to know their constituents and the work in their districts. Second, by being a resource on community development, asset building, and/or foreclosure prevention, you will help your legislators provide better constituent services and make laws that support Michigan residents and communities.

How will I know what to do? Capital Day is meant to be a learning experience, and there will be several education opportunities:

  • Brief webinar on Monday, Nov. 2 (then posted online) about the legislative process.
  • Webinar on Tuesday, Nov. 3 (then posted online) about the policy issues.
  • Talking points on the policy issues for you and your legislators to reference.
  • Information on how to look up your legislators ahead of time.
  • Hands-on advocacy training at the event.

What will my meetings be like? You will be placed in a group with 3-5 other individuals and scheduled for 15-minute meetings with up to three different representatives and three different senators from your geographic region, in their offices.

What will I talk about? There will be four official policy issues for your legislative meetings: the Earned Income Tax Credit, predatory lending, foreclosure rescue scams, and the 2010 Census. You will have printed talking points to use, although you are encouraged to share your own experiences and resources regarding these issues too. Because you will be in a group, you will not need to speak about all four issues yourself.

How do I sign up? We are still looking for CEDAM, ABC, and Foreclosure Task Force members from the Grand Rapids and Flint areas and rural communities, but all members are welcome and the event is free. If someone from your organization is able to come, please call Katie today at 517.485.3588 or fill out this RSVP form.

Member News Roundup

[This post is part of the new, biweekly Member News Roundup series, where you can see what CEDAM members are up to around the state.  If you have news to share, send it our way!]

Shelter of Flint Announces new Website. Shelter of Flint, Inc., a homeless shelter for women, children and families, announces the launch of its new Web site, www.ShelterofFlint.com. The website features more extensive content, a newsroom, testimonials, and an online donation system.

Flint Neighborhood Improvement and Preservation Project is building a grocery store in downtown Flint that will serve the 20,000 people who live without a grocer in a 5 mile radius. Listen to the NPR newsbit.

Presbyterian Villages of Michigan opened its sixth senior living community, The Village of St. Martha’s, in Detroit at the end of September. The project was funded by a HUD grant.  Read about this new senior living community.

Focus: HOPE held its annual walk on the 11th to raise funds and help launch a new initiative aimed at providing services to children and families in the area (HOPE Village Initiatives). Find out more information about the walk.

Northern Initiatives was awarded the 2009 Achievement Award by Lake Superior Magazine in recognition of Northern Initiatives’ Great Waters program. Read the full story.

Two Michigan Cities Receive National Awards from APA. Ann Arbor and Traverse City have both received awards from the American Planning Association. Read more about the award.

The State of the Industry

[This post is from CEDAM Executive Director Angie Gaabo.]

Everyone knows that times are tough for Michigan nonprofits, but what does that look like on the ground?  Here at CEDAM, we are dedicated to helping our members rebuild neighborhoods and revitalize communities.  To accomplish this, we need to know what they’re facing.

This spring, CEDAM conducted an Internet-based survey to collect data in three areas:

  • the health of the industry (how are members coping?),
  • the direction of the industry (what are members doing?), and
  • our own performance (how can we support our members?).
Verne Barry Place - project of CEDAM member Dwelling Place in Grand Rapids

Verne Barry Place - award-winning project of CEDAM member Dwelling Place in Grand Rapids

The findings were surprisingly positive.  While CEDAM members who responded are struggling with funding shortages, only a few have dissolved and many are forming new collaborations. They are adapting to new needs and funding sources, and they want more resources and guidance from CEDAM on how to do this.

Read the full report (it’s short), then let us know in the comments how this compares to your experience. How is your organization doing? What do you need to better serve your community?

Best Practice: Selling Homes in a Weak Market

[This post is part of our Best Practices series.  The series will highlight great ideas that you can apply to your own work.  If you want to share a best practice, contact Tiffany (select Membership on our Contact Form, or 517.485.3588).]

On October 1, 2009, CEDAM staff attended an event called Creative Cents in Lansing. One of our CDC members, the Greater Lansing Housing Coalition (GLHC), created this program as an innovative way to spur interest in four homes that they had rehabilitated but were having difficulty selling in this weak housing market.  The idea came from an interested volunteer who was involved in a similar program in Lafayette, Indiana.

The Creative Cents concept is similar to HGTV’s Design on a Dime television showThis is how you can implement it in your community:GLHC Creative Cents room at 809 Barber

  1. Invite local colleges or interior designers to volunteer to design one room in each home for sale.
  2. The budget is $300 (or whatever your organization decides), so designers will need to seek discounts or donations to help the dollars stretch.
  3. After the rooms are complete, send a press release and invite media and community members (i.e. potential homeowners) to view the rooms and vote for their favorite.

This is an inexpensive, creative tactic to move houses in a weak market. You can read more press and see photos of the finished rooms at GLHC’s Facebook page (no log-in required).

For more information about this program idea, please come to the session titled “Moving Homes in a Weak Market: An Innovative Best Practice” at the Michigan Conference on Affordable Housing (April 26-28, 2010). GLHC will be presenting this model in great detail during this session.

PS As a result of Creative Cents, GLHC sold a house that had been on the market for 3 years!!

Financial Education Resources

In honor of Michigan Credit Union Week (October 15-22, 2009), here are some financial education resources for teachers and learners.

A great tool for asset-building organizations looking to engage in financial literacy programs is the Financial Literacy Update, a bimonthly e-newsletter providing information about upcoming financial literacy events produced by the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency (OCC).

Some important upcoming Financial Literacy events include:

  • 2009 Annual Conference on Financial Education, October 21-23 (Philadelphia, PA).  This event is hosted by the Institute for Financial Literacy and provides professional development opportunities for people working in the fields of financial literacy and education.
  • Train the Trainer Financial Education Workshop, November 4 (Lubbock, TX).  Experience hands-on training on three financial education curricula provided by the Texas Department of Banking: the Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas’ “Building Wealth,” the FDIC’s “Money Smart Program,” and JA Worldwide’s “Junior Achievement.”
  • Financial Literacy Conference, November 6-8 (Washington, D.C.).  The Jump$tart Coalition for Personal Financial Literacy presents its first nation-wide conference devoted entirely to personal finance in grades K-12.

Also check out these two financial literacy resources for consumers:

  • HelpWithMyBank.gov – OCC Website providing answers to more than 300 commonly asked banking questions.
  • MyMoney.gov – U.S. government’s Website providing information for Americans on the basics of financial education.

Have more great resource? Post them in the comments!

Contest: Website Scavenger Hunt for Members

Welcome to the brand new CEDAM blog!  We are excited to reveal the blog, along with the new and improved CEDAM website.

After months of development, we are confident that the site will be a useful resource for you.  Some of the new features include:

  • a more intuitive structure and a more streamlined design
  • this blog
  • a search engine to help you find specific content
  • an interactive calendar to help you find and share events
  • forms to join CEDAM or renew your membership online
  • social media integration: CEDAM now has accounts on Facebook, Twitter, Delicious, and more
  • new sections include CEDAM’s history, FAQ, and “Meet the Members”
  • a redesigned policy section, with great advocacy links and frequent updates on pertinent legislation
  • personalize-able RSS feeds of recent news, Career Corner, and blog

To celebrate the launch and encourage you to visit the site, we are sponsoring a scavenger hunt for CEDAM members.  If you are a member, e-mail us with answers to these 7 questions by Friday, October 16 to be entered into a prize drawing!

1. What meeting is CEDAM hosting on December 9, 2009?
2. What is board member Brad Garmon’s other job (besides MEC)?
3. What is the front-page story of the Winter 2008 Community Connections newsletter?
4. What are the three committees of the Michigan Foreclosure Task Force?
5. What job is Community Action-Branch County advertising through CEDAM?
6. What is the status of SB 641 as of September 25?
7. Who inspires CEDAM member Don Jones?

Aloha from CEDAM!

Tiffany_LMHello, I’m Tiffany Lemieux-McKissic and I am the Manager of Membership and Communications here at CEDAM.

Our new website is awesome and I can’t wait to begin blogging about our members and the incredible work that you are engaged in. Look for ‘Member Spotlight’ features from me that highlight different member organizations across the state. I will also be blogging about state-wide Best Practice models in the CED industry.

If you are curious about me, I am 28 years old and a proud wife and mother of two (4 year old daughter Aurora and 4 month old son Xavier). In my spare time (ha-ha!), I love to read and to travel. My retirement dream is to own a small bed and breakfast in the Caribbean and lay on the beach all day- it’s going to happen so make your reservations now!

Please feel free to contact me if you ever have any suggestions or a great story to share.